Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Discussions about negotiating relationships between faithful LDS believers and the apostates who love them. This applies in particular to mixed-faith marriages, but relations with children, parents, siblings, friends, and ward members is very welcome.
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Mahonri Moriancumer
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Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Mahonri Moriancumer » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:06 am

I've been on a 5+ year faith journey that started out with some real doubts about truth claims and historical issues to now being a complete unbeliever in the LDS faith. I'm not sure what I believe about God, and I don't pray or read scriptures on my own now, but I do find peace and spiritual nourishment from the beauties of nature and through meditation and quiet reflection. I'm still active and hold a calling, but I dread every Sunday and the 3-hour block is excruciating.

My wife knows of my disaffection, but probably doesn't realize the degree. She is heartbroken. I told her some of my feelings after the 2015 POX (which really devastated me), and I broke her heart. She is about as TBM as they come, and doesn't understand or sympathize at all with how I feel. Her constant question to me is "Why can't you just believe?"

The last few Sundays (and the weeks following) have been rough. Our temple recommends expired and she renewed hers, but I told her that I wouldn't be renewing mine (I told her I wasn't ready, and I don't have the desire to go to the temple, but I encouraged her to go because it means so much to her). Last week my youngest daughter (teenager) didn't take the sacrament and my two older boys don't attend church anymore (one has resigned). All this has been devastating to my DW. Although my oldest two children are active believers, she feels like she is the only one in our family who is trying to do what is right. Daily family scripture reading, family prayer, and family home evening (with a spiritual lesson) are all really important to her, and we have really slacked on these things lately. DW feels like she is the only one that wants to try to do these things. Minus my wanting to do fun things together as a family, she is right.

The last two Sundays, DW has been in tears at church. It got so bad last week that we left during RS/Priesthood to "talk." It didn't go well. She basically unloaded on me with all of her frustrations and blamed all of our problems on my lack of belief. I apologized and we talked about my reasons for not wanting to renew my temple recommend. I committed to trying better to have our family (youngest + parents) participate in daily scripture reading (the New Testament, not the BOM) and family prayer. We've been good about this since, but DD participates grudgingly and can't wait for it to be over.

DW has been really depressed this week. She's isolating herself and doesn't want to talk. She went on a 3-day fast, hoping that by doing so, things would improve. She finally broke her fast yesterday. Me and the kids have been on pins and needles trying not to offend her further, but the "spirit" is not in our home.

I'd appreciate any advice. I think the Church is toxic to our family and it is making all of our lives miserable, but DW loves the Church so much. Perhaps more than she loves us. I've tried to talk her into seeing a counselor, but so far, she has been unwilling. We have seen counselors before (together and individually), but she thinks that it is a waste of time and money.

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Dravin
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Dravin » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:36 am

Mahonri Moriancumer wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:06 am
I'd appreciate any advice. I think the Church is toxic to our family and it is making all of our lives miserable, but DW loves the Church so much. Perhaps more than she loves us. I've tried to talk her into seeing a counselor, but so far, she has been unwilling. We have seen counselors before (together and individually), but she thinks that it is a waste of time and money.
I'm not sure there is anything you can do besides love your wife and let her decide if she wants to be in a better place (by accepting her new reality instead of trying to rewrite it with ritual starvation) and if she can be happy married to a non-believer. It is easy for those of us sitting on the sidelines of her life to insist she should be okay being married to a non-believer, but as much as it sucks to voice this thought, if she's never going to be happy unless she's married to a believer it isn't fair to expect her to commit to a life of unhappiness just for the sake of not divorcing and moving on.
Hindsight is all well and good... until you trip.

Arcturus
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Arcturus » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:02 am

Dravin wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:36 am
It is easy for those of us sitting on the sidelines of her life to insist she should be okay being married to a non-believer, but as much as it sucks to voice this thought, if she's never going to be happy unless she's married to a believer it isn't fair to expect her to commit to a life of unhappiness just for the sake of not divorcing and moving on.
+1

Sorry for this turmoil MM. Really tough situation, and not one I've experienced. Has she explored any "faithful" outlets that talk about the challenge to Mormon faith? What I'm thinking of is Mason's "Planted." Maybe if she'd be willing to look into this stuff it could help her sympathize with your current state of belief, rather than be depressed about it? Sounds like you're doing a good job being as supportive as you can with her faith.

If you don't want to buy the book, a good starting piece for her could be found here:

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2762&hilit=patrick+mason
“How valuable is a faith that is dependent on the maintenance of ignorance? If faith can only thrive in the absence of the knowledge of its origins, history, and competing theological concepts, then what is it we really have to hold on to?”
D Brisbin

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Mahonri Moriancumer
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Mahonri Moriancumer » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:30 pm

Arcturus wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:02 am
Has she explored any "faithful" outlets that talk about the challenge to Mormon faith? What I'm thinking of is Mason's "Planted." Maybe if she'd be willing to look into this stuff it could help her sympathize with your current state of belief, rather than be depressed about it? Sounds like you're doing a good job being as supportive as you can with her faith.
I bought "Planted" shortly after it came out and read it, then asked my wife if we could read it together. She hesitantly agreed, but only lasted one chapter and then asked that we not read it anymore. She got freaked out by the Hans Mattson story that was mentioned in the first chapter. She absolutely refuses to read anything that might challenge her faith. Several years ago a neighbor (now left the church) gave us a copy of "Grant Palmer's Insiders View of Mormon Origins." She read a little bit of it and was very disturbed and threw it away. She found some apologetic writings from FAIR critiquing it and that satisfied her.

DW honestly believes very strongly that Satan is working hard on me (and the rest of the family). I have been deceived and now there is a negative spirit in our home. I've been trying to toe the line between being authentic and true to my own feelings and beliefs without rocking the boat and respecting her feelings of betrayal and hurt.

Rather than explore any outlets that challenge the Mormon faith, she just puts full faith in the prophet and the truthfulness of the Church. There is no differentiation between the Church and the Gospel to her. She can't understand why I am so bothered by things that challenge my faith, and why I can't just choose to believe. This really sucks!

Reuben
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Reuben » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:06 pm

Your wife doesn't feel safe. Until she does, she won't be in a position to try to understand you. Worse, trying to get her to understand you makes her feel even more afraid.

I know, she interprets her fear as evidence of Satan's influence, and that sucks, and it would be great if she could just change her beliefs and let that superstition go. But it's not going to happen anytime soon.

She needs to know deep down, in her very bones, that you love and accept her no matter what. And not so she can understand you later, but because that's what's best for both of you.

It sounds like she also might need help with her mental health. Her isolation and three-day fast is worrying. It's maladaptive and sounds like depression symptoms. If she needs her mental health sorted, help her with that first. Everything else should be secondary.
Grieve. It's your right and inheritance as a human being.

Arcturus
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Arcturus » Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:05 am

Gosh that really sucks MM. I feel for you and wish you and your family the best. My mom kind of sounds like your DW in refusing to look at anything "unfaithful"
Reuben wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:06 pm
It sounds like she also might need help with her mental health. Her isolation and three-day fast is worrying. It's maladaptive and sounds like depression symptoms. If she needs her mental health sorted, help her with that first. Everything else should be secondary.
I somewhat agree with this, based on the little insight you shared in your first post. Also, as best you can do this, it could also (maybe) be helpful for for you to be the bigger person (easy for me to say) in this turmoil. To the extent that her loyalties are primarily with "the kingdom of God" or the cult as we know it is, then your love and patience will be huge through it all. As much as she can see you as being a good and possibly better person after parting from the church, maybe she'll open up and be willing to explore what you know if your "fruits" are not significantly different from the values the church promotes.

Again, so sorry to hear your experience and so many like it. It's really easy for me to write all this and my $0.02 might be worth only that - $0.02. Best wishes to you.
“How valuable is a faith that is dependent on the maintenance of ignorance? If faith can only thrive in the absence of the knowledge of its origins, history, and competing theological concepts, then what is it we really have to hold on to?”
D Brisbin

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alas
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by alas » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:18 am

This is my thought on the matter, but keep in mind, I am an internet stranger and this is just dead for you to consider. So, think this through and see if you see any truth in it.

I think it is time the two of you faced up to the idea that you really believe differently. Right now, it sounds like she is trying to be supper righteous to fix you. The scriptures and church are full of stories of people who kept loving and praying for their apostate loved one and the loved one repented and came back to church. But that is not reality for unbelief when you have good reasons for your unbelief. That is the church telling people it really really is true, when the reality is ...um, something else.

And for your part, it sounds to me like you really want her not only to accept you, but to agree with you. So, both of you are trying to change the other and it is more important to both of you to be right than to save the relationship. No, you are going to deny this, but are you really willing to let her be fully TBM? Don’t you wish desperately that she will “see the light”? And join you in apostasy?

Also, I know you are trying to support her by pretending to be TBM, but are you really cutting off the tail of the dog an inch at a time? She knows you don’t want to do churchy stuff, but you do just enough to keep her from accepting reality. Reality is you can’t stand Church. Boy do I understand that. But you do just enough church stuff to keep her hoping you will change, repent, join her in TBMhood. You keep her hoping, meanwhile, you keep hoping she will change.

This is a stalemate. Neither one will win this game. So, accept it and stop playing. Tell her flat out you do not believe and will NEVER believe. Tell her it is like SAnta Clause and once you stop believing you can’t go back to believing——ever. Cut off the dog’s tail all at once.

Step 2. Tell her you lover her to pieces and never will leave her or go so far off the deep end that you become the stereotype drunk in the gutter. You are willing to live a good moral life, Christian life, but not a “Mormon” life. Ask her what being a good person means to her if that person is not Mormon. Tell her you are willing to be that, just not Mormon. Emphasize that you love her and want to stay married (that is, if you do with her being Mormon)

Step 3. Ask if she is willing to stay married under the circumstance that you are not Mormon, but love her. Give her a week or so to think it through. The condition is that she stop trying to change you and you stop trying to change her.

This would be a total about face from what you are doing now, so think it over first.

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jfro18
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by jfro18 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:53 am

I agree with Alas... the reality is that you know it's not true and she doesn't trust you enough to dive in deep. That is what I'm going through and if you watch Mormon Stories or other podcasts that is incredibly common when one spouse falls away from Mormonism.

We're still going through it 5 months in although we haven't had any real big conversations about it in probably 6-8 weeks... but it's always there.

It bothers me that her #1 interest is church stuff. It bothers her that I'm looking into non-approved church stuff.

I don't know what the endgame is... it worries me a lot. But I would definitely agree with Alas that at some point you just need to flat out say the toothpaste is out of the tube and there is no going back. My personal go-to on that is the Sixth Sense. Once you realize Bruce Willis was dead the whole time, everything makes sense... just like once you find out the church is a lie, all of those issues fall into place because you know it's all made up.

So maybe the conversation is that you'll be there for her, but that you're never going to be back at church. My personal approach with my wife is that I will go over everything in detail with her, but not until she trusts me with the info. Until she actually trusts me, there's just no reason to discuss something that she isn't open to hearing about.

Sorry you are going through this and I hope you can both find peace somewhere with all of this. I know we're not alone here in this battle, so hopefully others can give you advice as well as updated on what has helped with their relationships. I am still fairly new here (5 months) so I know there will be plenty more ups and downs for me as well.

Take care and keep us posted and vent away if need be!

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Mahonri Moriancumer
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Mahonri Moriancumer » Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:40 am

Reuben wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:06 pm
Your wife doesn't feel safe. Until she does, she won't be in a position to try to understand you. Worse, trying to get her to understand you makes her feel even more afraid.

I know, she interprets her fear as evidence of Satan's influence, and that sucks, and it would be great if she could just change her beliefs and let that superstition go. But it's not going to happen anytime soon.

She needs to know deep down, in her very bones, that you love and accept her no matter what. And not so she can understand you later, but because that's what's best for both of you.

It sounds like she also might need help with her mental health. Her isolation and three-day fast is worrying. It's maladaptive and sounds like depression symptoms. If she needs her mental health sorted, help her with that first. Everything else should be secondary.
Thanks Reuben. Good advice!

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Mahonri Moriancumer
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Mahonri Moriancumer » Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:53 am

Alas & Jfro,

Thanks for your thoughts and advice. I've been thinking a lot along the same lines lately. One thing I would take exception to is that I'm not trying to change her. I love her so much and I don't want our relationship to end over this. I respect her wishes to believe the way she wants to believe, but it does really bother me that her love for me and the kids (especially me) seems to be conditional on being a faithful LDS member and not having doubts.

I'm not ready to do what I really want to do because of my fear of the repercussions of those actions. At least yet.

I do need to let her know (and show her by my actions) that I truly love her and the kids and they are the most important thing in the world to me.

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Brent
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Brent » Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:29 pm

Time. You are probably at a point where the church is an adversary. In time that will fade. I would suggest just keep being you and if she goes to church and you don't knock out the honey-do list. Help. Be helpful, thoughtful, act like you're courting and let her know there are no conditions on your love...Odds are she'll reciprocate in the long run.

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alas
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by alas » Mon Aug 13, 2018 4:30 pm

Mahonri Moriancumer wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:53 am
Alas & Jfro,

Thanks for your thoughts and advice. I've been thinking a lot along the same lines lately. One thing I would take exception to is that I'm not trying to change her. I love her so much and I don't want our relationship to end over this. I respect her wishes to believe the way she wants to believe, but it does really bother me that her love for me and the kids (especially me) seems to be conditional on being a faithful LDS member and not having doubts.

I'm not ready to do what I really want to do because of my fear of the repercussions of those actions. At least yet.

I do need to let her know (and show her by my actions) that I truly love her and the kids and they are the most important thing in the world to me.
I’ve been thinking about this idea of wanting our spouse to change. From the time I first told spouse man that I no longer believed any of the church’s story, till I knew we could stay married, my spouseman did change. He went from thinking it was a stage, from thinking I was under Satan influence, from thinking I was evil, to an acceptance that I have good enough reasons for being out. He now feels that I have done my best to be honest, and that there are church problems that are real.

So, I think some amount of change in our partners is necessary if the marriage is going to survive. Full fledged TBMs are taught to have contempt for apostates, to see them as evil and to try to get them to repent. In my studies of psychology and social work, we learned that marriages where one spouse has contempt for the other spouse the marriage fails. Pretty much a sure thing. Genuine respect is a must if a marriage is going to survive. For our part, we cannot think our partner is stupid or superstitious to believe, because feeling that way is contempt. They cannot think we are evil or under Satan’s influence or the marriage isn’t going to survive.

When we fight to get them to even begin to understand our reasons, we are fighting the contempt of them thinking we are choosing to turn evil. That is a valid fight. Our partners cannot hold our apostasy in comptemp and still respect us. They do need to change or the marriage will not make it. Now, DH is still an active believer, but he accepts that my reasons for disbelief are valid. They are my reasons and he does not feel obligated to disbelieve because my reasons are not his reasons. That is the change we want our spouses to make.

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crossmyheart
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by crossmyheart » Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:23 am

My DH and I went through a difficult time in our marriage when we were both TBM but he was not as dedicated at fulfilling his callings as I was. I saw my friend's spouses excel at church and get the "good" callings into the bishopric, but in the meantime my less-than-stellar TBM husband was in the Sunday School Presidency. I was on the fast track for success in church and was so disappointed that he was not as gung ho as I was. Looking back, it kind of feels like an MLM. I would have been devastated if he had left the church when I was still TBM and I would have dug my heels in deeper (because I was for a long time) and who knows if divorce would have come from it. My identity in the church as a married woman was tied directly to the success of my righteous priesthood holding husband. (letting you in a a secret-he didn't go all gung-ho on his callings because he didn't like all of the time away from us as a family)

As it turns out, I am the one who lost faith and became inactive. My semi-TBM/NOM husband is now the one who wants to go to church. Go figure. I lost my faith due to events that happened to me- that did not affect my husband on the same level. So I cant give you any advice on how to get her to change, but it doesn't sound like that is what you want anyway.

My point of sharing is for you to see how devastated she is at church to no longer have a valiant captain moroni of a husband that shines in his glorious priesthood. She is half of what she once was. It will take her a while to adjust. And just like advice given already- your job now is to be the best husband you can be- so that she can connect the dots that you don't have to be TBM to be a great husband and father.

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Mahonri Moriancumer
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Mahonri Moriancumer » Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:03 pm

crossmyheart wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:23 am
My point of sharing is for you to see how devastated she is at church to no longer have a valiant captain moroni of a husband that shines in his glorious priesthood. She is half of what she once was. It will take her a while to adjust. And just like advice given already- your job now is to be the best husband you can be- so that she can connect the dots that you don't have to be TBM to be a great husband and father.
Thanks crossmyheart! I'm just trying to do my best as a heathen and not expect anything from her. I know that this is really hard on her.

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Just This Guy
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Re: Advice Needed for Family Turmoil

Post by Just This Guy » Wed Aug 29, 2018 1:25 pm

One thing to consider is that the OP's wife may be in a state of mental shock trying to deal with their change in faith. She doesn't know how to take it and what they have been told their whole life is that unbelief will lead to wild sex with anyone they can see, drugs, drunken night rock & roll and Satan worship. SHe doen't know how to think of life without the church in it and now she if faced with that reality and she desn't know what to make of it.

A few thought, I would seriously try to get her into a therapist for depression issues.

Is she trying to figure out a new life with you. Help make that easier on her by minimizing your lifestyle changes. Make sure that you show her that you are the same person you have always been, just not a Mormon. Give her time to see that and to come to re-accept you. In the mean time, don't make any major life changes that you have not already done. I'd hold off on the coffee and alcohol until you are in a better place between you. Trying those out now may just come across as proving her view that you just want to sin.
"The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

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